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Apps & Tools for Soil Science

Presented below are some mobile Smartphone and mobile tablet Apps that you may find useful for your field of science. The Apps are categorised under theme areas, then listed alphabetically with a brief description or review. The reviews are based on general experience from a few users.

Please feel welcome to advise Soil Science Australia if you become aware of or are using other soil science relevant Apps that others may also find useful.

ADMINISTRATION / DOCUMENT HANDLING APPLICATIONS

Docs to Go

Dropbox

File Viewer to Go

  1.  http://www.goodiware.com/goodreader.html  

KeyNote

PDF-PROvider

Quickoffice Pro HD

Slide Shark

A better MS Power Point compatability App for iPad (without blowing the budget). Functions as an online secure document server which allows users to view and show presentations; preserve animations, fonts, graphics and colours and share slides for on-demand viewing and tracking!  The App also promotes an option of adding voice-over to slide presentations!

WiFi Transfer

Faced with the prospect of emailing field images collected by iPhone to a desktop computer (and incurring potential data use costs), this most excellent and easy to use Wireless Transfer App helps to easily and quickly transfer photos and videos between devices on the same network path. This App will transfer all or select photos and videos from iPad to iPad, from iPad to iPhone, from iPhone to iPad, from iPhone to iPhone, from iPhone to Mac, from PC to iPad and more. There is no need for cable or extra software. You just browse and download photos between devices.  http://www.wirelesstransferapp.com/

Scan

What makes this different to the QR-Scanner App is that it will also scan regular bar-codes (UPC, EAN, and ISBN), which is handy because many archived soil samples have been marked with a regular bar-code approach! Another handy feature is the ability to toggle on / off the camera flash to use as a light when scanning codes under low light or dark conditions. Please nite that Barcode scanning requires a SmartPhone device with a camera in order to work reliably (the camera in some other devices does not provide the detail/focus required for bar-code scanning).    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scan/id411206394

AGRONOMIC / AGRICULTURE

Agro Lite

Allows agronomists to create and email paddock/field inspection reports while on farm. Eliminates trips to the office to type up reports. The trial version is free, but the full and unlocked version has a high price tag.  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/agro-lite/id419778713  

FarmManager

Designed by a farmer for farmers. It allows easy recording of cropping, livestock, and chemical and fertilizer use, including type, rate, and date applied.  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/farm-manager/id433835168  

GRDC Weed Ute Guide

A free application designed to be used in the paddock by growers to assist in identifying the most common, annual, biennial and perennials weeds in Southern Australia. It's a good start, but some key weeds are missing (e.g. fleabane, etc).  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/weeds-the-ute-guide/id482862261  

Inoculants Calculator

A smart, simple and sure way to calculate inoculant needs. Whether you’re in the field, at home, on the road or in a store, simply use the Inoculant App to accurately and quickly calculate the exact number of bags or cartons of inoculant needed. The Inoculant Calculator is for use within Australia only and at present only seems to be available for an Android device.  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=becker.inoculants.calculator

Weeds of Southern Queensland

The App contains photos and information for 132 weeds, along with details of control and treatment methods. Weeds of all types are covered including woody weeds, cacti and succulents, vines, groundcover and herbs, grasses, and aquatics. The App is easy to use, once you understand how to load the images and scroll through.

Weed Smart

A simple tool to gauge herbicide resistance and weed seed bank risk for a specific paddock's cropping system.  Uses a scenario approach of selecting rotations and spraying system which is followed by a traffic light style warning system indicating risk. Interactive App available for Android and iPhone / iPad.

BIO-SECURITY

FeralScan

FeralScan encourages farmers and the general community to use their mobile device (Smartphone or tablet) to map pest / feral animals and document the damage they cause in their local area using a Citizen-Science mobile friendly website. It’s not an App as such, but allows access to a mobile-friendly website where observations can entered quickly and easily. The link to the mobile website is: *http://www.feralscan.org.au/*  and the mobile App is available at:  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/field-guide-to-pest-animals/id634197149 (Field Guide to Pests and Animals of Australia). Citizen Science for feeding information back to government or commercial groups is a growth area - leaders in this area include Google!

BROWSERS

Chrome

Requires less space and power use than Safari. Excellent when tethering the mobile device or when bandwidth is low / Internet connection is slow - thus making it a good performer when in a rural area or on farm.  

iCab

Until a recent update, Safari (and some of the other free mobile browsers) didn’t accept Pop-Ups. The iCab mobile browser has many features and options and is responsive and intuitive to use. It has many adjustable settings, options, and add-ons to tailor the browser’s ‘fit-for-purpose’ use with some quirky websites.  https://itunes.apple.com/AU/app/id308111628?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 

Mercury

The mobile equivalent to Firefox. Before iOS6, it was one of the only browsers that allowed tabs for pages that could be set in the background - but Safari does this now. A handy browser to have when Safari is off line.

Puffin

One of the only mobile browsers that performs like a desktop browser, allowing fast and easy access to web page Flash content. For this purpose alone it's a great tool to have and use. It's also free.  

 CALCULATORS / TOOLS

MyScript Calculator

Perhaps a novelty, but a handy tool nonetheless, where the user writes in (with finger of stylus pen) the calculation to be performed. The App recognises the handwritten script and converts to text and completes the calculation. Often handy for more complex calculations where the script is known rather than using a standard button type calculator. 

Memory Stick Free

A great way to transport documents using an iPhone /iPod as a memory stick. Simply copy the files in iTunes. Compress your folders as zip files and on your iPhone/iPod they will be displayed as folders. Copy files to and from your device and share them between different computers. Display the content of your files directly on your iPhone/iPod. The app supports copy/paste. Pictures can be taken with the camera or imported from the photo library. Can also send documents by email. There are a number of similar Apps that deliver this function now (e.g. USB mobile, etc).

CLIMATE / WEATHER

Australian CliMate

Australian CliMate is a suite of climate analysis tools for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The App allows you to interrogate (SILO) climate records over the last 60 yrs to ask a number of questions relating to rainfall, temperature, radiation, as well as derived variables such as heat sums, soil water and soil nitrate. The App is very easy to use / follow, allowing the user to set and store their weather station locations. The App is best used on an iPad.  Well worth downloading and having a play with – because it’s FREE.  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/australian-climate/id582572607

Rain

All this app does is show you the latest rain radar data in your area, kindly supplied by the Bureau of Meteorology. Nothing more - no weather forecasts, no finding out how hot it was in Sydney in 1894.  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/rain-aus-radar/id373298738

CLOUD STORAGE

Cloud storage systems are convenient, but generally they are not suitable for the storage of confidential personal and financial files (do so at own risk after reading the fine print in the user agreement)

Dropbox

Dropbox (available as an Android, iPhone, iPad App) is a free cloud storage service (for up to 2Gb of data) that lets you add, store, share and send practically any document (photos, docs, and videos, etc) from anywhere. Files are regularly sync'ed to avoid file duplication; different levels of security can be applied; additional space can be purchased; links to specific files can be sent to people (rather than sharing a whole directory). In my opinion this makes Dropbox perfect for collaborative team project development; working groups; etc. Also a winner for use where an email attachment may exceed a corporate email systems limit - so rather than blocking up the email system, a link to the file can be shared with colleagues instead. There are even online Dropbox forums.

Google Drive

Much the same as Dropbox. Used to be known as Google Docs and is only available to users with a gmail address.  Does not have the same useful functionality as Dropbox, but will allow editing of MS Office files online through mobile tablet device.

SkyDrive

Microsoft's entry into the Cloud computing area. Again much the same as Dropbox, with the unique exception that it will allow access to a full suite of online MS Office files to create, edit or share (very handy in a mobile environment). SkyDrive 3.0 App for the iPhone and iPad hit the App Store on April 3, 2013.

FIELD NOTE RECORDING

DragonDictation

Apple has Siri which allows iPhone users to access a wide range of content, but it is limited when wanting to dictate full letters with punctuation or collect field notes on the fly. Dragon is powerful tool with a long development history; the only challenge is the 'training' required to get your accent and word usage aligned with Dragon's word identification dictionary (uncertain if it can set up 'profiles' for different users).  

EverNote

An all-rounder App which can be used to collect field notes, but doesn't collect the geospatial location, which is why FieldNote Pro is possibly better. Evernote allows notes, images, to-do lists to be created and saved. Annotated images can be created, saved and printed and PDF files can be viewed. All items saved can then be shared with another computer or mobile device.  

GENERAL RESOURCE INFORMATION

ClinometerHD

A clinometer App that seems relatively accurate as a slope finder tool on the iPhone. It can be applied on all edges of the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad in every direction. A fullscreen mode can be toggled. The clinometer smoothly converts to a bubble mode when held horizontally.  

Discovr Apps

A handy tool for quickly viewing alternative or related Apps. Handy when the App you are using just falls short of what you want it to do and so without much effort, Discovr Apps makes it easy to view similar Apps. Well worth getting this App to refine the tools in your collection.  

Filemaker Go 12

FileMaker Go 12 (a free download) lets you and your team access databases created by FileMaker Pro 12 (easy-to-use database software) on your iPhone. The databases that run on FileMaker Go are fully-featured Apps with powerful capabilities. This potentially opens up some great opportunities for mobile field data recording using a mobile device (iPhone or iPad).  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/filemaker-go-12-for-iphone/id508238074\+  

Flipboard

A news reader that allows the user to ‘create’ their own reader-magazine filled with everything being shared across the web, from breaking news, to top stories on current events, sports, technology, travel and more. Excellent to use when in a waiting room or in the airport boarding lounge.  

LogMeIn

The app works with the LogMeIn Free on your PC/Mac for free remote desktop access. It allows the user control their PC or Mac directly from a mobile device. Wherever there is Wi-Fi or 3G, users can remotely control their computer as if they were sitting right in front of it (which includes most software programs). This excludes access when your company / employer has set specific firewall protocols. Works well from home networks though.  

Magnifying glass with light

A handy App that allows the smartphone camera to digitally zoom down to view detail, together with using the camera flash to illuminate the subject under observation. Especially useful when in the paddock examining leaf insect damage or disease – take a photograph and email it, or add it to the Field Notes catalogue to add a geo-reference.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/magnifying-glass-light-digital/id406048120  

 

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is a flexible and powerful flight search App that enables the user to compare flights schedules and costs from over 1000 commercial airlines around the world (and literally in seconds)... The App is very easy to use; it seems to be independent and is able to find the cheapest fares in seconds - whenever and wherever you want to travel. Searches can be filtered on departure dates, times, carrier, or cost; and the findings can be shared with family or friends via an email link, and best of all - the App is free!  This App is a money and time saver!  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/skyscanner-all-flights-everywhere\!/id415458524\|https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/skyscanner-all-flights-everywhere\!/id415458524  

ITranslate

An award winning translation tool that breaks down some language barriers in short communications with colleagues overseas or from transcripts and web pages. 60 languages available, some even with audible links. Obvious grammar errors exist, but one overlooks that for the benefit that the App can bring.  

  1. - tools and devices that link into an iPad / iPhone for field use
 

Flower Power

This App hasn't quite arrived, but it’s getting a big build up in the tech geek write-ups and from what is discussed there could be some opportunities to perhaps apply it in the agricultural sector as well. There are a few devices already on the market that use an App interface to download data from data loggers, but this is a more robust, portable metre that is being promoted as an advanced plant sensor. The features include: wireless sensor; measures sunlight, soil moisture, temperature and fertilizer (or nutrient input). The website to read further information is:  http://www.parrot.com/flower-power/ Keep an eye out for this device!

 

IzOne

This is one of a number of WiFi based WebCams that can be used in conjunction with an iPad or iPhone to ‘log-in’ and remotely view the action being collected by the WebCam. KoganTM also sells a similar remote webcam device. Handy in a WiFi cover environment to use in your glass house to check out who keeps changing the irrigation settings!

 

Kubachi Smart Plant Care

The Koubachi WiFi Plant Sensor suggests that this WiFi plant sensor gadget will accurately determine the vitality of your plant and sends the user a notification with precise care advice at the right time. Almost sounds too good to be true....  Associated with the device is a free App and free Service - allowing the user to access data from every­where, anytime - absolutely free of charge! The Koubachi device stores all the data securely in the Cloud, for as long as user desires (and at this point in time the basic basic service is free of charge)! Further information available from  http://www.koubachi.com/

 

Parrot Drone

When the budget is tight and you can't afford the high-wing plane platform to take aerial oblique landscape images, invest in a Parrot AR Drone (with mounted high res web cams) and use your iPhone / iPad to remotely control the device over the paddock of interest! The UAV Drones are becoming popular – but in Australia if using one of these above 120m, a CASA License is required.  http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/ar-games/ar-freeflight  

LAND USE PLANNING

Social landscape

How well do you know your neighbourhood? Which factors are important when purchasing land? The Social landscape App gives quick and easy access to demographic information almost anywhere in Australia based on 2006 and 2011 census data. Free blocks of demographic data are available in the base app, and more specialised data can be requested / purchased.  http://www.appannie.com/app/ios/social-landscape/  

 

NOTE PADS / NOTE TAKING

FieldNotesPro

A note taking tool for iPhone/iPad to take with you on the road. Locate your position using GPS and view it on a satellite map, take notes, collect photographs all in geo-referenced format. Then transmit this information via e-mail as a kmz or text to any destination. No need to connect through iTunes. Makes geo-referenced data sharing and collection a snap for those on the go. There is also a trial / freebie version available.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fieldnotespro/id457209025?  

Noteability

Powerfully and quickly integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organising so notes can be collected on the fly. Great for quickly and easily capturing ideas, sharing insights, and present information with colleagues via network connections.

Notes Plus

At first glance Notes appears to be too simplified for practical use. The greatest benefit of some other similar Apps is the exporting to Google Drive, Drop Box (as well as Email and iTunes). The best feature is being able to easily convert free style (hand drawn) notes into text.  

Penultimate

A groovy notepad App that, with the aid of a pen-stylus, will very efficiently represent freehand notes and pictures. Very easy to use, excellent sharing tools, multiple background papers including scaled graph sheets. Can be used as a whiteboard - the mobile device is plugged into a data projector. Not as versatile as Notes +, but then again it is free.  

PHOTO / VIDEO (IMAGE PROCESSING)

BigPhoto

Most government or company email users have attachment size limitations that will block incoming or outgoing email messages. This can be a challenge when emailing images (captured from your iPhone or iPad) directly from the field  because the images are generally of a high resolution and can be large in file size.  To the rescue is a handy App called BigPhoto which allows the user to view pictures and images in full resolution with unlimited zoom and accurately enlarge (like digital zoom) or downsize pictures with exact pixel sizes with or without locking aspect ratio. The App automatically saves the enlarged or downsized images back to the Camera Roll as a new file (so not corrupting the original). The App also has a range of other photo editing tools. A perfect App for reviewing fine details of panorama pictures of iOS 6 devices or 8MP pictures from iPhone 4S/5. https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/big-photo/id513663883

PS Express

Adobe Photoshop Express provides semi-professional image editing tools which can be handy for refining or annotating images. There are better photo editors available.  

Photogene

Photo/ image editing App which is easy to use on an iPad. Lots of sensible photo editing options and easier to use than PS Express. There is an iPad version and a separate iPhone version.  

TinyScan Pro

Whether you're in the office or out in the field, being able to scan documents or images on the go can be extremely useful. TinyScan can turn an iPhone into a mini scanner for documents, photos, receipts and other texts, allowing the user to store or email as PDF files.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tinyscan-pro-pdf-scanner/id556500145   *Note: there are a number of scanning apps (i.e. TurboScan, ScannerPro, Genius Scan, CamScanner Free, Prizmo).

Genius scan

Does a similar job to TinyScan but is free. Saves single or multiple pages to PDF files and is easy to use and very handy for the simple function of scanning documents and avoids filling the photo albums with endless images of Corp Card receipts. DropBox integration comes at a cost of $2.99. Very good quality and excellent "rubber sheet" like adjustment for oblique images or slightly curled paper.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT & PLANNING

Gantt Lite

A (free) project management tool that allows the user to view Microsoft Project plans on iPhone/ iPad It provides an interactive way to navigate and view Gantt charts providing a holistic approach to your project planning experience. The App works with MS Project 2010, 2007 and 2003 versions.

GoToMeeting

An App which is part of the Citrix (www.citrixonline.com) group provides iPad access to collaborative online meetings for small groups. Citrix also delivers Webinars from small to large groups including online conferences. The GoToMeeting App is a stable and useful and less expensive than Skype Premium.  

Idea Sketch

Free Basic and Effective Mind Mapping Tool for iPad and iPhone. Mind mapping offers an invaluable strategy for organising thoughts — when doing research, as preparation for any kind of project or just for retaining and reviewing information. It's simple and straightforward, without an abundance of features; but it offers more than enough to be effective.  

iMindMap (and iMindMap Pro)

Intuitive and feature packed in the basic version. Compatible with the desktop version which allows sharing and exporting of MindMap files. Enables use of great clipart and can get add-ons that allow extras such as 3D presentations; resource allocation; WBS, etc. Anything beyond the free version is expensive.

iThoughts

Mind mapping - more flexible in export formats than iMindMap. The App was specifically designed for use on an iPad and has some great features. The App will import and export mindmaps to and from many of the most popular desktop mindmap applications such as MyThoughts, Freemind, Freeplane, XMind, Novamind, MindManager, MindView, ConceptDraw MINDMAP, MindGenius and iMindmap. Check out a PC demo at:  http://www.ithoughts.co.uk/iThoughtsHD/  

MindHD

Works well on an iPhone. Got a gong as one of the best business Apps by CNET in 2011 and 2012. Not as flexible as iThoughts, (and iMindMap Pro since improvements).

MindMeister

Not just another MindMapping tool, but one that allows online collaboration, which makes it useful for team project development. Share any creation easily by inviting users by email, or simply send them a unique and secure direct link. Changes can be made regardless of the mobile device being used (Apple, Android, etc); and a history tracking tool allows changes to be easily reversed. Will also support SWOT analysis and project / account plans. Once shared, users can start a thinking session and collaborate on any mind map in real-time. Colour-coded effects will highlight changes by other users within seconds, and the integrated live chat will let users exchange thoughts with your peers directly.  

 

LAND, SOIL & WATER

Clinomtre

Reasonably precise for basic slope measurement when using an iPhone/IPod Touch. It’s not so good with an iPad. Slope can be measured by all edges of the iPhone in every direction. When the iPhone is put flat on a table a bubble view fades in – presenting a spirit level function. I like the way the slope tool can be calibrated. Wouldn’t replace a field clinometer, but when caught without one, the App makes a handy substitute.  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/clinometer-level-slope-finder/id286215117

Munsell DG

An iPhone / iPad App that allows the user to browse Munsell colour charts. The RGB or CYMK colour codes can also be exported for use in publications to represent soil colour.  http://itunes.apple.com/mo/app/munsell-dg/id515717868*?\* A similar version called mColorBook is also available in a free trial format  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mcolorbook/id490626965*?\* The availability of this App could potentially save on the cost of purchasing a Munsell colour chart and opens the opportunity for iPad / Androd devices to be used more extensively for field work (noting that a 'touch tablet' works just as effectively in a waterproof 'zip-lock' bag – avoiding a muddy or scratched screen).  

MySoil

A free smartphone app from the British Geological Survey and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology that allows the user to view a soil properties map of Britain, (and some parts of Europe) which assists in improving user knowledge about the soil beneath their feet. The App includes a valuable 'Crowd Sourcing of Citizen Science' tool which allows users to upload geo-referenced soil information into a ‘trust-layer’ through the smartphone App.   http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mysoil/  While the MySoil App (and some others on this page) are not directly relevant to Australia, they do present interesting and useful concepts. 

Precision Earth

Rated as one of the best Top-10 agriculture Apps in 2012, PrecisionEarth 'soil sampling' app makes it easier to collect grower, field and soil sampling data. Users can load and display directed sampling layers and boundary vectors, export soil sampling location and display background maps. The trial version is free and gives sufficient insight into how the application works. However the full version costs $159.00.  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/precisionearth/id452268046  

SoilMapp

The Australian Soil Resource Information System (ASRIS) App which provides soil resource data coverage across Australia. Works in a similar way to the MySoil or SoilWebb App. SoilMapp is a spatial illustrator that presents a map of Australia, which can zoom in to the general location where a user is standing at real-time to provide semi-detailed resource information about the soil area they are standing on. Nothing else available presenting this level of information in Australia for mobile tablet (iPad) use. Only available for iPad devices (including the mini-iPad) but not available for iPhone / iPod or Android devices. Website is  http://www.asris.csiro.au/index_other.html  

Soil pH

A simple instructional style app that demonstrates the use of the Universal Soil pH indicator solution and links the user to a commercial gardening group. It's not a free   http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/soil-ph/id384282086  

SoilWeb

An iPhone aGPS based, real-time, App that provides access to USDA-NRCS soil survey data. The application retrieves graphical summaries of soil types associated with the smartphones geographic location.  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/soilweb-for-the-iphone/id354911787  

SPATIAL / Geographic Information Systems

Most smart-phones, tablets / iPads have what referred to as "aGPS" (assisted GPS). While it's not a true GPS, it is a system which can, under certain conditions, improve the start-up performance, or time-to-first-fix of a satellite-based positioning system. Smart-phones with aGPS can be used for limited fieldwork activities such as mapping-on-the-fly, coordinate location and viewing.

ArcGis

Extends the reach of your GIS from the office to the field. Free. Will allow limited field mapping on the fly.  http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/smartphones/app.html  

GISRoam

Mobile GIS users can take Raster and ESRI Shapefiles with everywhere, which enables Shapefile viewing, editing, colorization, and collection over user loaded imagery.  http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/gisroam/id370163784  

iCartoMobile

A comprehensive mobile GIS package for iPad / iPhone, which allows reliable online or offline GIS field mapping. Import through an iTunes link ESRI shape files or DXF files, create and manipulate spatial data layers.  Package is $84.99, but it provides considerable field mapping flexibility, including exporting the files from the mobile device back to the desktop / notebook computer to continue refining or analysing the spatial information. The next best alternative GIS package is GIS Pro, but at $300 for the full package it was a little too expensive to purchase to trial (the free App version of GIS Pro is GIS Kit).

Motion-X GPS HD

Has a large selection of free maps and navigation Instruments for outdoor life. AGPS that works in a car, on a boat, in a plane, on a hike, visiting a new city, or just browsing the globe from home.  http://gps.motionx.com/ipad/overview  

While this page is dominated by iPhone or iPad Apps, its acknowledged that there are probably just as many Android tablet users in Australia.  Many of the Apps listed above are also available in an Android format and accessible through Google Plus. 

If there are Apps or Tools not listed above, send your suggestions through so they can be added!